By: Matthew Fleming
28% of families surveyed for the report, subtitled ‘Practical Wisdom and Leadership for Changing Times’, said that future leaders are currently selected on the basis of primogeniture, whereas only 10% said that they see it continuing in the future.
“There is real evidence of a shift – a definite trend towards a meritocracy and towards new methods of choosing family leaders”, said Matthew Fleming, Head of Family Governance and Succession, speaking at the Stonehage Fleming Family Investment Conference this week. “There is also a definite trend towards having more than one family leader”, he added.
Ideally, a family will have several different high quality leaders in every generation, each filling a role that befits their skills. Such leadership roles will not only include the chief executive of a family business or a head of wealth management, but may also include a head of family culture and development, a head of next generation and a head of philanthropy.
When it comes to choosing leaders, 13% of survey respondents said that leaders in their family or family business are currently selected by committee. 33% believed that it should be the way leaders are selected in the future. “Formalising the selection of leaders is really challenging,” cautioned Matthew. “Some families use balanced scorecards, some get outside consultants in to help, some use trustees and some use a combination of all three.”
The top five risks identified by the families in the report, all point towards the need to harness and deploy a family’s social, cultural and intellectual capital, addressing risks such as family disputes and a failure to engage the next generation or choose appropriate leaders. As the requirement to better manage these non-financial risks is more widely acknowledged, the need for a wider range of leadership roles is also likely to be accepted.
“There are lots of ways in which people have led families in cultural and social capital over the years”, said Matthew. “It is only when you look back that you realise what an utterly critical contribution they have made to the intergenerational success of a family.”